Showing posts from 2018

Top Blog Posts of 2018

It's that time of year again!  Happy New Year!  I'm looking forward to the rebranding launch of my blog tomorrow and all the amazing content I'll be bringing your way this year!  In honor of saying good-bye to one era and hello to another, I present you the top five posts of 2018!

5- 100 Disney-fied Elf Ideas
I only posted this elf-on-the-shelf list in October, and it's already one of my most popular articles.  It's got everything people love- Disney, ideas, and elves.  I had a lot of fun putting together the list and looking for all the Disney fun to add.  I anticipate adding another 100 or so in the future.

4- Free Camping Notebook
The success of posts like this one is part of why I decided to make a new blog called Party Through the USA.  At the beginning of the summer, I was posting two times a week with content for travel, which was distracting me from the purpose of this blog.  This particular post was inspired by my mom and her camping organization.  Years ag…

Hope the Elf's Adventures- Part 3

This is the last batch of pictures from our 2018 Christmas season.  Our Barbie-who-identifies-as-an-elf worked pretty well.  I wish I had planned her visit a bit more; although I didn't do everything that my kids were hoping I'd do (nuts to crack, a cookie scavenger hunt, and a few more).  They're always so sad to see the elves go.  Maybe I'll bring them back for a month of kindness in February (or maybe just 2 weeks).  We'll have to see what happens (wink).

Hope the Elf's Adventures- Part 2

Every day, my husband refuses to look at the elf set up I've done because he enjoys being surprised every morning.  It makes me think that I should do more silly or surprising things throughout the year, especially since I'm usually up later than him.  This is the second installment of our elf adventures for the year.  The first set of pictures can be found by clicking on the picture below.

Meet Hope- Our Elf on the Shelf Alternative

Many feel like the official red-suited Elf-on-the-Shelf is slightly creepy.  Others don't like him because of his spy backstory.  When I chose JOY two years ago, I wanted a doll that had a Christmas look, but was cuter and more friendly than the official Elf.  I also liked that her outfit was non-traditional colors.  Her soft clothes and body invited snuggling (in fact, Dragonfly has been begging me for 3 years to let her have the doll to keep).  She has had many adventures with our family, but my expectations for an elf have changed during that time.  As Christmas approaches, I find myself in the market for a different kind of elf, one better suited to interesting scenarios.  Which led me on a wild Pinterest search for ideas.

I ran into this inspiring blog post, where the mom took a Disney Fairy doll and turned her into a girly elf.  She clipped the wings, then took a Dollar Store sock and made the "cold weather" accessories.  I love how simple the project was for her,…

Christmas at Our House, Warm Memories

I'm not sure what it is about this year, maybe it's my kids' ages or my age, but I'm feeling very nostalgic this year.  I've been forcing my children to listen to the albums from my childhood, songs like Christmas at Our House by Barbara Mandrell, Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant, and Christmas Like a Lullaby by John Denver.  Listening to those songs instantly takes me back to all the chaos, excitement, and memories of twenty years ago (does that mean I'm old?).  For today's post, I'm hoping you'll indulge me as I walk through Christmas of yesteryear.

My parents have been married for thirty-six years and have a strong marriage, but for some reason, Christmas highlights their differences, at least in my memories.  My mom is an organized, type-A woman with a plan and a gift-giving matrix.  When we were kids, her list, and sometimes her buying, was done before Thanksgiving many years.  On the contrast, my dad's shopping was often done Christmas Eve. …

45 Ways to Play During Winter Break

It's only a few more weeks until Christmas!  Even if you don't celebrate that particular day, many schools and homeschool groups have a Winter Break around New Year's Day.  If you're anything like me, you're probably stuck at home with stir-crazy kids.  There's not enough snow to motivate them to go outside and they're just SO excited about presents that they can hardly contain themselves.  I'm finding myself on Pinterest searching for things to do with the kids and ways to keep them busy.  When I called on my friends at the Kid Blogger Network, I ended up with this awesome list!

Snow Slime // No Time for Flashcards
Holiday Slime // This Teaching Mama
Melting Snowman Slime // Little Bins for Little Hands
Grinch Glitter Slime // Citrus and Stripes
Santa Slime // Growing a Jeweled Rose
Cocoa Slime // Fantastic Fun and Learning
Gingerbread Ooblek // My Bored Toddler
Fluffy Snow Slime // Natural Beach Living
Edible Peppermint Slime // Soccer Mom Blog
Slime Shopping …

Spelling Printables and More


Ways to Teach Kids Writing Skills


Stocking Stuffers for Kids who Like to Chew

*This is a sponsored post.  I was given free product in exchange for my honest opinion.  Ark Therapeutic also provided a free necklace for a giveaway to help me promote my blog.  The gift guide is my Christmas bonus to them.  All pictures come from the Ark Therapeutic website and belong to them*

Skimmer (age 6) loves to put things in his mouth!  He chews plastic and metal, rips things with his teeth, and gnaws his fingers.  He has many other sensory needs, but the oral sensory seeking can be the hardest to meet.  We have found that certain crunchy or flavorful foods are helpful, but there are often times (like in church) when eating noisy foods is not polite.  Enter- the silicone chew or chewelry.

Chewelry is kid-safe jewelry made out of food-grade silicone, which is meant to be chewed.  It's designed to meet the oral sensory needs in a safe way!  It comes in necklaces, bracelets, hand-held objects, pencil toppers, and more.  Some chews are shaped to meet different types of chewing…

DIY Miniature Nutcracker Dance Studio

I've had this dance studio in process since last Christmas!  I did the printables for it last January, and just now got around to putting it all together.  I built this to use as a background for our Elf on the Shelf, JOY, when she teaches us about the Nutcracker like she did last year.  With the new Nutcracker and the Four Realms movie out in theaters now, this is a great year to introduce your kids to the classic ballet.

To allow the ballet studio to be easy to store, I used a Small Tri-Fold Presentation Board, which stands 14" tall and is 24" wide.  It's a great size for fashion dolls and elves.  First, I used plain computer paper and a glue stick to cover the edges of the board.  It creates a nice edge and gets you used to cutting and gluing on the cardboard.

Next, I used the wallpaper printable that I made to cover the inside of the board.  It took a bit of creativity to make the patterns match up, but it wasn't too hard.  If you had another scene on the in…

DIY Mini Christmas Decorations for Dolls and Elves

I've been busy filling up my Elf Suitcase House with handcrafted decorations.  I wish the pictures were a bit better- maybe I can reshoot them next year when the sun shines again.  For now, hopefully these cell phone snaps from my shadowy bedroom will be enough to get a good idea of what I've done.  Most of the craft supplies with a few exceptions are basic and things I already had around my house.  I've included complete supply lists for your convenience.

Peppermint Vase
- empty glitter jar
- fake candy canes
- peppermint nail art pieces

I first arranged the candy canes in the jar to get them the way I wanted, then I added a bit of hot glue in the middle of the to hold them to each other.  I lifted the bundle of candy canes out and added the peppermint candies.  A dab of hot glue in the middle of the candies came next, and I pushed the candy canes down on top while the glue was still hot.  When it was all assembled, I hot glued it in place on the shelf.

Smell the Peppermin…

10 Youtube Videos to Learn about Thanksgiving

Next week is Thanksgiving!  All of our regular homeschool activities will be cancelled, so I'll have a whole 3 days to fill with seasonal fun.  I'm sure there are lots of things I could gather for the holiday, but I decided to do videos because my kids love them.  Dragonfly (age 7) enjoyed helping me screen these videos and put together this list of historically accurate (as far as I know) videos of the Pilgrims, Wampanoags, and the first Thanksgiving.  I'm hoping that this list gives homeschoolers and teachers lots of jumping off places for their own good discussions.

17th Century English Village
Adults at Plymouth Village talk about the structure and defense of the town, how the houses were built, and the pilgrim way of life.  A solder talks about his armor and weapons, a man addresses tools of the time, and a woman talks about home life and gardening.  I'm sure your kids will have many questions after watching this video.

Scholastic Virtual Field Trip
This video is a…